From the 3rd to the 8th of September 2012, I had the opportunity to attend the Social Structure Summer School at the Courant Research Centre “Evolution of Social Behavior”, University of Göttingen, Germany.
In this week-long workshop, Ph.D. students from a wide diversity of fields (such as Biology, Anthropology, Mathematics, Economics and Ethology) had the chance to learn, discuss and integrate their theoretical, observational and experimental approaches for the study of sociality and cooperation.
During the time there, I learned new techniques for the analysis of cooperation that can definitely benefit my own research. Among those, agent-based modelling stood as the most interesting to me.
By receiving training in the use of NetLogo, we were able to create simple models capable of simulating common situations involving cooperation dilemmas. In my case, I worked on a model which tests the survival of strategies in typical coordination-failure games.
For example, the Figure attached shows a starting population of subjects with the following strategies: ‘cooperate’, i.e. always cooperate; ‘defect’, i.e. always defect; ‘tit-for-tat’ and ‘random’. After some iterations, the subjects with the strategy ‘defect’ are the only survivors. This is a common result in the empirical literature.
If you’d like to modify the model’s parameters to test your own hypotheses please go here.
In retrospect, I was glad to meet and interact with Professors and other students who study the evolution of cooperation and are not related to Experimental Economics. There is so much to learn from other approaches! Not surprisingly, the potential for future collaborations is appealing.